Thursday, 1 January 2015

S 42.52.58 E 147.19.49 Final days in Tasmania and some thoughts about our travels in Australia

We spent a few days exploring Hobart before heading "across the ditch" to New Zealand. Our hostel was just out of the CBD so we could walk to the Harbour and surrounding area.  Here's a few photos of our time.

In and around Launceston

Legal opium poppies
Tasmania grows the majority of legal opium for the manufacture
of morphine and codeine.

The owner of this little store also was a world class sand sculpturor.
This fantastic dragon was in the front window.

Cornerstone for our hostel - which had always been a hostel.
First for the Presbyterian Church to house new Scottish immigrants and then
for the local school of nursing.
Hobart: Checking out the Harbour area

Everything seems to center around the harbour.  Museums, markets, restaurants, tours... You name it, you can find it here.  Hobart prides itself on the fact that it was the second (only to Sydney) settlement in Australia, and not founded on convict labour.

Traditional Aboriginal Canoe.
Made of grass.

Yet one more of the odd animals you find downunder.
This little fellow could walk up onto land.

Franklin River rafting connection.  The first boats were
hand made and based on "Canadian Canoe" designs.

Tiger snake in the museum.  Poisonous, of course.  On the mainland,
they do have orange stripes but on Tasmania they are

One of the temporary displays were photographs of MSF projects.

Tea was quite the production.

There were very few Christmas decorations around, but
this reindeer was pretty cool.  Made of local wood.

As was this huge fish hanging from the ceiling of a restaurant 

We were seated just behind this fellow.  Sadly, the food
did not live up to the decor.

Salamanca Market.  I fell in love with these cool
emu prints.  The artist actually had spent time in Alberta.
Small worlds.
And here's the cards I bought.
Bruny Island Cruise

Last time we were here, we had a fantastic time on a cruise around Tasman Island (just a bit to the east, near Port Arthur) with this company, so we were looking forward to checking out this bit of ocean with the same company.  Bruny Island is sort of south of Hobart.  As a girl from the prairies, I'm easy to impress when it comes to oceans and sealife.  This did not disappoint.  Mind you, the crowds of people were a bit trying.

Yes, we saw a humpback whale.
 They were about two weeks late leaving the area to head to the antarctic.
The setup of the boat made photos difficult as we couldn't move around.

Australian fur seals.  This is a colony of bachelors.
In mating season, they travel up to the north of Tasmania where
the ladies and babies live.

This is actually where Captain Cook first landed in Australia.
Bligh came back three more times. It was a good place
to collect fresh water.
Climbing (down) Mt. Wellington

Our last day in Hobart, we took a bus up to the top of Mt. Wellington and then hiked down.  It was a great sunny day and after the first bit (steep, loose rocks...) the path was pretty easy.  Only got lost once when I didn't notice a sign.  Interesting piece of trivia - when Charles Darwin visited Hobart, he climbed to the top - it only took him two days.

One of the major events that everybody in Tasmania has memories of is a major fire in 1967 that came to within a few hundred meters of burning Hobart (homes in the suburbs did burn).  The hillside of Mt. Wellington is gloriously green, except for white ghostlike tree trunks.  The story is that the fire was so hot and moving so quickly that it killed the tall mature trees but they didn't burn.

One of the trees that was killed in the 1967 fires
but wasn't burned

We watched this little fellow for about 10 minutes.
He practically walked up to me and took his own picture.
This is what an echidna looks like.

Tasmania has wallabys but no kangaroos

The quilter in me thought this moss/lichen deserved a photo

Thoughts on revisiting Australia

Last time we visited Australia, it was our first big adventure.  Everything was new and different and that experience certainly encouraged me to plan more adventures.  This time, we are five years more experienced as travelers, including just spending six months overlanding through Asia.  Looking back on the 11 weeks we spent in Australia, it was an interesting contradiction for me.  In some ways, I expected Australia to be like Canada and in some ways I expected it to be more exotic.  Neither was the case, of course.  

It was frustrating to deal with internet that was expensive and inconsistent, or just not available, but that is what is available in Western Australia. Food and services were much more expensive than Canada (and horridly more expensive than Asia).  It took some time to get perspective and just accept where we were.  The other thing was, Australia isn't as new and exciting and exotic as I remember - instead, we kept talking with Australians about the similarities and shared experiences between our two countries.

I'm glad we came back to Australia to visit the places we missed last time and to revisit some of our favourites.  Yes,there are things we have yet to experience, but I don't feel the need to come back as a tourist.  Could I, perhaps, live in Australia?  Certainly, it is a lovely place that feels almost, but not quite, like home. 

Next stop, New Zealand.

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